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Rawan is walking again, one year after the earthquake


Rehabilitation | Syria | PUBLISHED ON February 1st 2024
Rawan, 12, taking part in exercise sessions at Aqrabat hospital

Rawan, 12, taking part in exercise sessions at Aqrabat hospital. | © HI

An earthquake hit northwest Syria on 6 February, 2023. 12 year-old Rawan remained trapped under rubble for 6 hours. Her legs were crushed.

On 6 February 2023, in a massive earthquake struck northwest Syria killing more than 6,000 people and injuring a further 10,000. The earthquake caused yet more pain and devastation to a country already torn apart by 12 years of war. HI and its partners are helping more than 10,000 people to get back on their feet. Rawan had crushed syndrome. HI has been by her side, helping her to recover.

Rawan lost many relatives

Rawan is a 12-year-old girl who used to live in Idlib in Syria. She lost most of her family in the earthquake that struck on 6 February 2023, including her mother and sister.

“We were asleep when the earthquake happened, the house was shaking and then it collapsed as we were trying to get out,” says Rawan.

Rawan and her father were the only survivors. For six hours, the little girl was trapped under the rubble, which crushed her legs. She was saved by rescuers and immediately transferred to hospital for first aid.

Crushed under the rubble

Rawan was unable to move. In April, after two months of extensive treatment, she was admitted to Aqrabat hospital, HI’s partner, for orthopaedic and reconstructive surgery. She had severe crush damage in the anterior and posterior pelvic area and left front thigh.

Rawan’s path to walking again

Under the supervision of HI, Rawan started her recovery with the physical rehabilitation and psychosocial support teams.

The physical rehabilitation team diagnosed her with muscle weaknesses, spasms and bad posture. They worked with her to improve her functional autonomy, teaching her how to get in and out of bed, sit down and stand up and how to use a wheeled walker.

The next step was to improve her balance so that she could walk independently.

The psychosocial team helped her to cope with her grief and come to terms with her new life. During sessions, she drew and painted to express her feelings. The team members gradually gained Rawan’s trust and prepared her psychologically for the rehabilitation activities to come. They managed to alleviate her fear of treatment and motivated her to do her rehabilitation exercises. They also arranged for her to phone her loved ones every day.

After 12 physical rehabilitation sessions, Rawan was discharged from the hospital. She is now able to walk again and is ready to return to her life with her friends and her father.

Rawan continues treatment

Since being discharged, Rawan has continued to receive psychosocial support and attend exercise sessions at Aqrabat Hospital. She says she will work hard to become a teacher in the future. She used to live in her parents’ house before the earthquake. Now she lives with her father in her grandfather’s house in Tal Alkaramah where she attends school.

6 February 2023 earthquake

On 6 February, 2023, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake rocked southeast Turkey near the Syrian border, with thousands of aftershocks. The disaster impacted at least 15.73 million people in Turkey and Syria, with over 55,000 lives lost and nearly 130,000 injured. Millions were displaced from their homes. In Syria, the earthquake exacerbated the effects of the ongoing war, deepening the crisis for approximately 3.7 million children.

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